There’s a coffee shop in St Helier that has become my staple. It’s just next to Sand Street car park, which is less than a quid per hour. I drive there in the morning now so I can sit here and chill out before I get started. Fucked old antique furniture with throws. Shelves and shelves of knick-knacks, comics and books. You get your coffee in any old mug. It’s like being in my flat if I charged for coffee and there was room to sit down.
They’ve got a shelf full of graphic novels many of which I haven’t read yet. If I worked in St Helier I’d be in here every day before work gradually making my way through Sandman and Preacher.
Right now though I’m here just winding up for the weekend. There’s a group behind me of people who would have been my friends when I was in my early twenties. Due to my proximity to their area I’m wrapped in their conversation, a part of it but not a part of it.
It’s pleasant, and familiar. And it’s so strange. I’m a lot older these days. Apart from the fact that half of their topics are things that weren’t invented when I was that age, it’s making me nostalgic. Escape Rooms, Mayonnaise, Pokémon Go, Travel.
They’re going to a friend’s wedding today and they are clearly dreading it. It’s curious though, most of my friends who tied the knot when I was that age are still going strong surrounded by large kids. I was hanging out mostly with Christians and perhaps that’s why. Perhaps it’s the terribly wholesome nature of the conversation that I’m connecting with. It’s cute, middle class and clever. Plus they mostly aren’t talking about popular culture which I get. I haven’t switched the telly on in my hotel room once since I’ve been in Jersey. I’m always a little out of touch. I was even more out of touch when I was their age. Even at Guildhall I used to dread Mondays, where the whole year group would take most of the day talking about people they’d seen on the telly over the weekend as if they knew them personally. Talent show contestants and characters in dramas. I just sat quietly until it was a spent topic.
“I just took a Covid test and I desperately hoped it would come back inconclusive so I wouldn’t have to go to this wedding,” one of them sends, and that’s a topic I wish was spent. “Say you’ve just had the vaccine and its had side effects,” is the advice. It strikes me how quickly we’ve normalised this unthinkable mess we are all in. Jersey is “further ahead” than the UK apparently, although the forces of fear are still selling as many copies as they can with sensationalist headlines. Everybody is still masked and hunted, and the conversational currency is to do with where the variants are from, with fearful emphasis on the name of the foreign place. “The Indian variant has been detected in Jersey,” I’ve heard a few times. I think the implication is that the more exotic the place is, the more threatening the variant is considered to be. “We want British Covid, from British Britain. None of his foreign Covid muck.”
It’s a good cup of coffee though. I’ll be back for more of that. I’ve got another two weeks here, with change… Good to have a few down days. I’m beginning to feel how small this island is now. But I’m still really happy to be back here.